LIBERTYVILLE, IL — There are 11 candidates running for four open seats this spring on the Community High School District 128 school board. Patch.com requested information from all candidates through a survey. Here are the responses submitted by District 128 school board candidates Don Carmichael: Age (as of election day): 59 Town/city of residence: Libertyville
LIBERTYVILLE, IL — There are 11 candidates running for four open seats this spring on the Community High School District 128 school board.
Patch.com requested information from all candidates through a survey. Here are the responses submitted by District 128 school board candidates Don Carmichael:
Age (as of election day): 59
Town/city of residence: Libertyville
School district: 128
Family – Names, ages and any pertinent details you wish to share: My wife Maureen and I made a home in Libertyville in 1990. Our two children attended D70 schools and graduated form LHS. Both are now college graduates and living on their own.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? – This includes any relatives who work in the government you’re running for: No
Education: I received and bachelors degree from NIU in biology, a minor in Chemistry, and Illinois Teaching Certification. I earned my first master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University. I also hold a master’s in Geoscience from Mississippi State University.
Occupation-Please include years of experience: I am a retired high school science teacher from Stevenson High School where I spent the entirety of my 33 year career.
Campaign website: https://carmichael4d128.com/
Previous or current elected or appointed office: Currently seated as D128 board member. Elected in 2019.
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and
this is what I intend to do about it.
The most pressing issue is the onboarding of our new superintendent, Dr. Denise
Hermann. With the retirement of Superintendent Dr. Lea, board president Pat Groody,
and board secretary Karin Lundstedt, there will be a great loss of experience and
historical knowledge. Dr. Hermann comes with a wealth of experience and a deep
passion for education, but of course has no experience in D128. It will be up to our
excellent administration and the stability of the board to help her to lead the district post
pandemic. The community needs to heal after bitterly divided debate regarding the re-
opening of schools and Dr. Hermann will have the responsibility to see us through.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I am an incumbent. Experience matters. It takes time to become accustomed to the
process of governance. Too many fail to understand the role of a board member and run
because they want to change things or they are unhappy with some program or procedure.
I am running because I recognize our district is doing great things and I want to see that
Some of my fellow candidates joined this race because they are dissatisfied with the
board’s response to COVID, a point I disagree with and by autumn will likely be moot.
Many had pressed the board to re-open the schools to in-person instruction as early as last
fall. I voted along with the majority of the board to begin the school in remote instruction.
I stand by that vote. The board considered moving to hybrid in October. I voted against
opening the schools at that time. As the metrics deteriorated, the board voted
unanimously to postpone opening the buildings until after the winter break. I fully
supported reopening in January and support the continued move toward full day
instruction on April 5th. Some candidates are now calling for a full return this spring,
which, at this time, is not in the students’ best interest. It is clear that the majority of our
families do not want to return to full-day instruction (only 44% of LHS and 29% at
VHHS). Further, teachers have rewritten their lesson plans to accommodate the block
schedule. As a former teacher, I know I would have my plans set through the end of the
school year, and changing back to an 8-period day at this point would be disruptive,
logistically difficult, and contrary to our mission of providing the best education possible.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
Before the pandemic I had begun to work with administrators on setting up Sustainable
128, a group that would set procedures for identifying, measuring, abating or mitigating
environmental impacts. As a former AP Environmental Science teacher, I have an
understanding of a variety of ways our district can reduce its impact. We would examine
topics such as water management, waste and recycling, energy use, and materials
sourcing to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint, improve water quality and flood
control, and reduce chemical hazards. Students would be, and have already been,
involved in all aspects.
I worked with the task force this winter on developing the new racial equity policy that
was adopted by the board by a 7-0 vote at our March general meeting. Policy 7:12: Racial
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion spells out the district’s commitment toward ensuring full
participation in all aspects of our institutions for all students. I recognize the prevalence
of racial inequality and systemic racism and have chosen to become more informed and
knowledgeable about identifying racism and confronting it. The policy is divided into
sections that posit our beliefs, commitments, accountability, implementation and
monitoring and define terms in order to improve clarity. One of the commitments is to
provide: “…both mandatory and voluntary equity-focused professional learning (including, but not limited to culturally responsive teaching, anti-racist and anti-bias learning) so that members of the school community deepen their racial identity awareness, strengthen their culturally relevant teaching practices, build their cross-cultural competencies, and identify practices that lead to the closing of opportunity and achievement gaps. This professional learning includes all district staff, all building staff, and all Board of Education members in equity-focused professional learning opportunities.”
I am a strong supporter of the need for and the efficacy of professional development and I look forward to taking part in the required equity-focused professional learning. As a contributor to the writing of this policy and as a board member, I will commit to working with our new superintendent to ensure its implementation and continued monitoring.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
As an incumbent who is supported in this campaign by my fellow board members, I will cite my experience as evidence. I would go further to suggest that it is not enough to “handle the job.” It suggests some bare minimum. In contrast, I have thrown myself into this work. Each meeting requires hours of reading in preparation and, for me at least, the need to direct many questions to
the administration prior to each meeting. I want to understand thoroughly and have relied on district officials to spell things out for me so that I can make valued judgments. Let me just say here how incredible our administrative team is. The leadership of our district is unparalleled and works tirelessly to ensure the very best education for all of our students. It has been an honor to work with them.
Why should voters trust you?
I always strive to be honest; I have not hidden my opinions nor do I have a hidden agenda. I feel that I am in this race for the right reasons. I suppose there are many voters now how would disagree, that I have not earned their trust because of my voting on the issue of reopening the schools during this pandemic. As a former educator and as a teacher who experienced what it is like to teach remotely, I have first-hand experience with the demands on teachers and students during remote learning. It is far from ideal. Students and teachers both feel isolated and find it much harder to attend to the lessons. While it is not the best, it is safe. As we gained understanding on the transmission of the disease and the efficacy of mitigations, I supported gradually opening the schools; some would say too late, but not the many who asked for my support in providing the safety of a remote option. In all cases I was voting for the students’ education first.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office a success?
Successful attention to the issues described above: onboarding the new superintendent, providing stability to the board, continuing to work toward sustainability and paying attention to equity and inclusion.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the handling of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
We should spend what we need to in order to provide the best education for our students. We should not spend frivolously, but with constant attention to helping our teachers teach, providing safe, comfortable and appropriate facilities, and offering supports for students’ physical, social and emotional health.
In general I believe in spending on maintenance rather than saving money in the short run and allowing systems or structures to deteriorate. I believe quality matters and that we should purchase quality products that last. I think teachers, administrators and staff need to be fairly compensated and by providing attractive salaries we can find the best educators for our students.
Great schools are made by great teachers. Great schools attract homebuyers, which keeps our
property values high. I also support cautious spending. At our Facility and Finance Committee meetings we labor over costs. Our staff has been truly top-notch when it comes to looking for the best deals possible. Of course the community knows we are bound by law to accept the lowest responsible bid for work done at our campuses, which means frugality is built in to the system.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I support Black Lives Matter. I attended the rally in Cook Park and marched along with the people of our community June 6 th of last year. I believe peaceful demonstration is a fundamental right and a powerful agent for change. Our board has adopted the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy and our schools are continuing the work of confronting racism. I supported the creation of
teacher/equity coordinator positions at our schools. In the end, I believe I have a lot to learn; we all do, and we have a moral imperative to recognize and address racism.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
The board is working toward racial equity. We have much to do. I have identified the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy in previous answers and addressed this question there.
When the vaccine is available to them, do you support mandatory COVID-19
vaccinations for students and staff?
I do not support mandatory vaccines. I think everyone who is physical or medically capable should get a vaccine. As a biologist, I will attest that vaccines work and that the best way to get back to normal is to have everyone that can get vaccinated do so as soon as possible. I recognize that there are people who for medical reasons should not get the vaccine, which is why it is so important for
everyone else to get one. I implore every eligible person to get one as soon as it is available to you. I want our kids back in normal school.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
The best advice ever shared with me was ____________
My father, Bob Carmichael, was a 4th generation educator. When I was a biology student in college he said, “You should become a teacher. You’ll never be rich, but you’ll never find anything more rewarding” I became the 5th.